life in a tiny apartment.

August 6, 2020

Tip #195: In finding apartments and tenants (and very good husbands) it only takes one.

On Monday morning, I bought two small bunches of hydrangeas from the bodega on the corner. The plan was to photograph the apartment, as quickly and efficiently as possible, while James performed his primary parenting duty these days: pack animal. He’s been carting children and filled water bottles from park to park during the hottest days of the year, so I guess I’ll just go ahead and wait to be sainted in my next lifetime.

After the requisite scooping up of discarded sticker sheets and pajamas that didn’t quite make it to the hamper, I snapped quick photos of our apartment and sat down to draft a listing that I’m sure is too verbose. But who can blame me? How else to share the way we watch the sunset in the clerestory of the church across the street?

This morning, I ran a dust mitt over dresser tops and waited to show the place to the first person coming to take a look. Will they be able to imagine the way the light in June dazzles the westward walls in the morning? Or how it shifts by fall, giving us golden hours on late October afternoons? Should I mention that on snowy days, the slate roof across the street looks like a gigantic gingerbread house? That cardinals roost in the London plane branches?

By Tuesday evening, all but one stem of a deep purply hydrangea had drooped, so there aren’t any flowers in here now. It’s cloudy. I turn on lights and light a favorite candle. I wipe away the child-height splatter of toothpaste on the butter yellow bathroom tile and straighten the pile of New Yorkers.

They arrive and within minutes I can’t help myself but to mention that the church with the aforementioned clerestory was designed by the same fellow who designed Saint Patrick’s on 5th Avenue. I’m over-eager, as always, but will they appreciate the replaced medicine cabinet if I don’t point it out? The rerouting of the cables? The improved positioning of the fire alarm? The quiet gleam of an eggshell finish on the apartment walls? We have touch-up paint! No VOC! I continue to have no chill.

I say goodbye and close the door. I text them a sunset picture of the view from the roof in summer. All it takes is one other person to see the magic.

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  • Reply Angela August 6, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    So beautiful. Best of luck in the hunt for an apartment for you, and for someone for your apartment.

  • Reply Judith Ross August 6, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    I can see the magic from more than 3000 miles away. And as a new grandma who hasn’t seen her Brooklyn granddaughter since the first week in March, I only wish I had the bucks to rent it myself.

  • Reply Auberie August 6, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Does that mean you got last weeks apartment? (I’m sorry if you told and I haven’t followed). That’s great!
    Indeed, sometimes the small and most beautiful things you see only after having lived in a place and you could never imagine them before, while quickly visiting.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 6, 2020 at 1:17 pm

      The hunt continues !

  • Reply Hannah August 6, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    Perhaps your last tip? . Regardless, I’m excited to see where your journey leads ♡.

    • Reply Hannah August 6, 2020 at 12:12 pm

      I had a crying emoji after the first sentence, not sure if it showed up. It was overflowing with tears.

      • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 6, 2020 at 1:18 pm

        At the rate the hunt is going, likely not, but we’re staying hopeful.

        • Reply Hannah August 6, 2020 at 5:04 pm

          Don’t fret, love. Everything will fall into place as it’s meant to be. ♡

  • Reply Annie August 6, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Best of luck on your apartment hunt!
    Just curious, how come you are responsible for finding new tenants? Isn’t that usually the landlords job?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 6, 2020 at 1:06 pm

      We still have six months on our lease and we’re hoping to break it, so we need to find the tenants.

    • Reply Nicole August 7, 2020 at 10:02 am

      Pure poetry Erin. I hope that you indeed find someone who will appreciate your apartments beauty (and quirks) as much as you all have. Love your optimism and am hopeful your next nest is around the bend.

  • Reply Julia August 6, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    That is exactly the approach that would sell this place to me.

  • Reply Rachel Manning August 6, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Erin, thank you for writing this note! My husband and I recently bought a home here in Austin (pandemic house hunting with a toddler is not for the faint of heart), and as we prepared ourselves for the odd timing of leaving the town house we were leasing we knew the day would come when new prospective tenants would be viewing our space and there was some anxiety with that for multiples reasons. I too, and it seems many of your readers, have zero chill as it relates to both the house search and the preparation therein for preparing your current space for a new person, but we made it through. Luckily for us we only had two visitations back to back on the same day and then someone leased it out immediately. Sending your family so much good energy and hope you find that perfect new space so soon.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 6, 2020 at 3:55 pm

      thanks so much! we need it!

  • Reply Milou August 6, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    This was such a great read. Best of luck to you and sending lots of good energy your way!

    Re: the hydrangeas. I just learned this tip after a gorgeous bunch I bought was wilted and sad by the next morning. The trick is to trim them and put them in a clean, sterile vase with boiling water (!!)

    I was dubious, but desperate (indoor flowers have taken on a heightened importance nowadays), but it worked! I can now get about 10 days out of them. Credit where credit is due, here is the link if anyone is interested:

  • Reply Gemma August 6, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    So beautifully said. Wishing you good luck!!!

  • Reply Louise August 7, 2020 at 5:22 am

    Good luck apartment hunting! Fingers crossed from a long-time reader.

    P.S. Hydrangea stems apparently need to be recut seared under boiling water for 45 seconds or so to increase their vase life – then they’ll stay around for up to 2 weeks. Thought worth a mention for your next bunch! They’re too lovely not to prolong… 🙂

  • Reply Stacy August 7, 2020 at 6:37 am

    I didn’t see the people that were buying the first home where I raised my family. But I did meet the lady to the home that we wanted to buy. She asked the agent if she could meet us. We agreed. After 40 plus years she had recently lost her husband and from the sounds of it they did everything together.
    I sat in the family room of this beautiful farm house that they had built together and raised their family and listened to her stories.
    At the end as we were walking out the door, I said to her “I promise that we will fill this home with love and laughter”.
    She accepted our offer, we moved in and 6 years later we are still filling this home with love and laughter.
    Good luck on your quest.

  • Reply Elly August 7, 2020 at 8:50 am

    We’re in the same situation as you right now — got the all-clear from the property manager to break the lease if we can find new tenants. I too keep saying to myself “All it takes is one.” I’m not sure what your plan is, but we’re working with a broker to find someone new. Maybe an option for you guys as well.

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